To the uninformed, the idea of a smart gun may seem like a fantastic idea. It’s been proposed as a viable solution to crime, gun-related violence, accidents, and suicide. It’s often referred to as the “fix” for all firearm-related problems by attempting to prevent unauthorized users from accessing the firearm through technology and is often applauded by mainstream media, a group that can’t get basic facts about firearms correct.
Would smart guns actually reduce the rate of suicide or self-inflicted accidents? Likely not. Smart guns, if working as designed, would still allow any hypothetically authorized user to discharge the firearm. So, to make it simple, if you own the smart gun you can still shoot yourself with it either accidentally or on purpose. For the same reasons, a smart gun won’t actually prevent you from accidentally shooting someone else. And, to someone really determined to commit suicide, not having access to a firearm likely just means that they’ll use the local bridge.
Owning a smart gun also won’t prevent you from brandishing, committing aggravated assault, aggravated battery, murder, having Accidental Discharges (AD’s) or any other firearm-related crime.
As an instructor who has taught thousands of people, I believe that the only real way to prevent accidents in any age group is through training. I often hear firearm companies market on the fact that you don’t have to pull the trigger to take our XYZ fancy model gun apart. The reason for that is because many people have shot themselves while taking their gun apart. How about we just follow one of the basic safety rules and not point it at ourselves when we pull the trigger?
Certainly, using technology or locks to prevent unauthorized users from accessing guns would prevent theft and unauthorized use, right? Well, probably not. All modern motor vehicles on the planet have door locks and ignition locks to prevent access by unauthorized users. Many of them are sophisticated, expensive and use similar technology as smart guns. The FBI reports that in 2012 the United States alone had an estimated 721,053 motor vehicle thefts. A battery and a computer chip aren’t going to magically prevent theft or unauthorized access.
For firearms to work properly they have to be maintained and kept clean. Essentially what this means is that there must be some type of user access. If it can be accessed, it can be hacked or modified. Many of the smart gun technologies rely on RFID, wireless, magnetic, or biometrics (think fingerprint or retina scanners) to “lock” unauthorized users out of the firearm. All of these technologies can be hacked.
Don’t believe me? Do a quick Google search on credit card hacking and see how many millions of dollars a year are lost by credit card companies. Trust me, if those companies could completely prevent hacking and “unauthorized users,” they would.
Most of us carry firearms to protect ourselves and our families, which is certainly one of the rights protected by the Second Amendment and recognized by the Supreme Court. One of the universal legal requirements for self-defense across the nation is that the person defending themselves must be in imminent danger of serious injury or death. “Imminent” is a legal term that means it’s about to happen, it’s close at hand, it’s on the precipice, it’s on the verge, it’s so close to happening that it’s almost certain to happen.
What this means in most self-defense situations is that you aren’t justified in “using,” pointing, or firing a firearm until the last moment that you can possibly wait and still live. Smart gun technology is going to slow that down. A half of a second could mean the difference between living or dying, being prosecuted or being justified. That’s assuming that the “smart gun” works every time, which it won’t. Circuit boards will eventually fail, and moisture, condensation, gun oil, extreme conditions, temperature, dust, etc. all cause major problems in electronics. I want my guns to work all the time and not just when I happen to be wearing an RFID chip or when I remembered to charge the battery on my stupid “smart” gun. Also, I am not okay with the idea of my firearm being jammed or hacked by bad guys or the government, and both could realistically happen.
If you want to get really scary, consider that proponents of smart guns believe the only way they could ever be effective is if everyone was required to use them. All other “non-smart” firearms would need to be banned. I’m not okay with that and certainly, the founding fathers, who rightfully had a major distrust of government, wouldn’t be okay with that either.
Let’s be intelligent and not even start down the slippery slope of “smart guns.”